More than ever before Tash Sultana is ready to explode
Set adrift from a relentless tour schedule that left them burnt out, Sultana embraced the opportunity; settling into a pattern of regular sleeping, eating and desperately needed downtime that had been totally foreign.
I’ve got some plans up my sleeve, you’ll just have to wait and see.
Having broken through with a home recording in 2016 of their song Jungle (almost 95 million views on YouTube at last count), Sultana released the Notion EP later that year and two years on their first album Flow State debuted at No.2 on the ARIA album chart. Touring for the former busker and multi-intrumentalist was a constant, playing from their home state in Victoria to three sold-out Brixton Academy shows in London and a sold-out performance at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
“You know, when you sell out Red Rocks they give you a little piece of the rock, so that was pretty cool,” Sultana says, flashing a brilliant smile.
After all that’s been achieved in recent years, Sultana remains thoroughly grounded and their new album Terra Firma, out on Friday, represents a hugely productive and rewarding period in their life.
“I feel different, I wrote differently because I feel differently,” Sultana said. “I was very inward and validated and calm, really calm the whole time I wrote the record, so that became the sonic landscape. It’s a collection of 14 tracks that reflect what it’s like to be me at 25; this is where I’ve got to and this is what I have to say.”
Despite long overdue relaxation time at home, 2020 wasn’t all surfing, sleeping and gardening for this musician with a famously prodigious work ethic. Sultana still released Pretty Lady, the first of five singles from Terra Firma in April and the fifth, Sweet and Dandy, last month.
“I’m a very, very, very organised person who always has many plans; a plan A, a plan B, C, D E, F, G or whatever. I knew exactly how things were going to go. The plan was I’d release five singles before releasing the record and those five singles represent an element, kind of a sentiment in life … so yeah, we really thought about it.”
Planning for upcoming shows, including two Melbourne performances later this month, has continued although Sultana has been closely monitoring the outcome of Victoria’s snap five-day lockdown.
“I’m itching to get out and play, so I’m prepared when we get the green light. You can’t plan too much in life but you can be prepared, plan as if things are going ahead, be as prepared as possible and then you’re ready. I’m ready to step on stage if they said: ‘Alright, you’ve got to go on stage tomorrow’ and I’m ready because I’ve been rehearsing every single day for the last four-and-a-half weeks. I’m not going to freak the f— out and be a complete shambles on the stage.
“I’ve got some plans up my sleeve, you’ll just have to wait and see,” Sultana added, when asked if there’s a band joining them on stage. Having busked for years and become recognised at home and abroad as a formidable solo artist, recruiting band members would be a significant shift in gears.
Having written the songs, played every instrument, mixed the music and thrilled concert-goers around the world with their astonishing live show, fans would understandably be excited about seeing Sultana in full flight with a live band.
“Downtime is necessary, but I’m ready, I’m really ready.
“I’m feeling good because I’ve had this rest. I think I’m going to come back in a whole new light and appreciate everything differently. Everything is so temporary, as we’ve seen and when [playing live] comes back I won’t be saying things like ‘I’m really tired’ or ‘I want to go home’.”
Regardless of whether or not Sultana’s immediate plans involve a backing band, many of the 14 tracks on Terra Firma are sure to be welcomed into the set.
“For me, that’s what it’s about, the jam,” they said. “I love everything around it as well, the lead up to releasing music is amazing. When I go back on tour I’m going to be a firecracker … I will explode.”
Terra Firma is out on Lonely Lands Records/Sony Music.
Get a little more outta life
Start your week with practical tips and expert advice to help you make the most of your personal health, relationships, fitness and nutrition. Sign up to our Live Well newsletter sent every Monday.
Martin Boulton is EG Editor at The Age and Shortlist Editor at the Sydney Morning Herald